ETWYRT: Tom Kratman

(mirror-posted from the Otherwhere Gazette because I have an Organic Chemistry exam)

Today’s reading and recipe come from Tom Kratman, best known for his military science fiction and alternative history books. I’ve been reading Kratman since his first book and his skills have grown exponentially since that endeavour. When I asked him for a dish, he told me that the one he was giving to me is mentioned in the first book of his Carrera series, A Desert Called Peace. Astute readers will see that although the story is nominally set on a colony planet, the timeline of events in the book is eerily similar to near-history here on Earth. I can say eerie, since this book was published in 2007, and yet… Well, I’ll let you read it. Oh, and did I mention that this is a free book? It’s one of the Baen Free Library offerings. Get’s you started on a new series for very little commitment.

Kratman has been nominated for a Hugo award for his novella Big Boys Don’t Cry, a BOLO story with a twist. I highly recommend it, but I will warn you it made me tear up. big boys dont cry

Corvina al Ajillo con Tostones

There were several recipes for this dish, and I am hoping I’ve managed to come close to what it ought to be. Living in Ohio, fresh sea bass wasn’t an option, or at least not readily available to me. I used tilapia filets and cooked them very gently. I based my recipe loosely on this one, and others.

Garlic cloves
I was delighted to discover that the Spanish word for a garlic clove is ‘diente’ literally tooth. I love teeth of garlic…
  • 12-15 cloves of garlic, peeled
  • 8 0z (one stick) butter
  • parsley or cilantro
  • 1/4 c lemon juice or dry white wine
  • optional: finely minced onion

In a small saucepan, melt the butter. Reserve 2 tbsp of the melted butter in a saute pan for the fish. Add the garlic cloves to the butter (and onion if you desire), reduce heat to low, and cover. I swirled them around every few minutes to keep them from burning. While the sauce is beginning, put on a heavy pot or fryer with 1-2 in vegetable oil ( I prefer Canola for the high smoke point) at medium-high heat.

buttered garlic
Keep the temperature low. There will be a lot of browning, but you don’t want burned.


These are the potato chip of Central American food, it seems. Green plantains, sliced, and twice cooked to crispy doneness. The First Reader’s comment when he tasted the first one with salt was ‘needs ketchup’ and indeed, they do taste like a french fry.

plaintain slices
Slices of plantain before removing the skin.
  • 1-2 green plantains (one fed the two of us with sufficient chips for a meal)
  • salt to taste

Slice the plantain into 1/4″thick discs. Fry these for a minute or two, until barely golden on the outside, and soft on the inside. Remove from oil and smash. I used the bottom of a coffee cup. Fry again, until golden-brown and crispy. Remove to a plate with paper towels to absorb excess oil and salt while still warm.

Smashing tostones with a mug.
plantain chips
Crispy starchy plantain chips!

Poached Fish Filets

Check to see if your buttered garlic cloves are soft, and smash them with a potato masher or puree in food processor. Return to the saucepan with the cilantro or parsley (I combined them, and was using dried, the First Reader finds cilantro to taste like soap if there is a lot of it). Add the lemon juice or wine and allow to simmer. Heat the saute pan for the fish to medium, and gently poach the filets in the butter for about 3 minutes to a side (I had very thin filets).

Serve on a bed of greens with the sauce spooned over the fish and tostones. Very lemony, garlicky, and the fish didn’t taste fishy. I also had a parmesan rice on the side.

Corvina al Ajillo
Corvina al Ajillo con Tostones served with a peach-and-rum drink and parmesan rice on the side.


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